WASHINGTON: The US special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, is “on leave,” US State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said on Thursday, adding that Abram Paley is filling in on an acting basis.
“Rob Malley is on leave and Abram Paley is serving as acting Special Envoy for Iran and leading the Department’s work in this area,” Miller told Reuters in an email, without explaining why Malley was on leave or how long it might last.
Malley, who was deeply involved in former US President Bill Clinton’s failed 2000 effort to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians and in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, was appointed special envoy for Iran in January 2021.
It was not clear what, if anything, his leave might mean for efforts to restrain Iran’s nuclear program following then-US President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to renege on the 2015 agreement and to reimpose extensive U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
Malley has led the Biden administration’s unsuccessful effort to revive the deal, under which Iran curbed its nuclear program to make it harder for it to obtain the fissile material for a nuclear weapon in return for broad sanctions relief.
Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons.
Having failed to revive the deal, the United States has held talks with Iran to ease tensions by sketching steps that could limit the Iranian nuclear program, release some detained US citizens and unfreeze some Iranian assets abroad, Iranian and Western officials said earlier this month.